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A LAMB ON MOUNT ZION, PART 7

 

 

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Revelation 14:14–16

 

Review Chapter 14 Up To This Point

 

The first thing we see is a Lamb standing on Mount Zion with a crowd of 144,000 standing with Him. We remarked that this reflects the same happenings as the opening of the sixth seal in chapter 7. And from our study of that chapter we learned that the historical point in time was approximately 1800 A.D. and the event was what has been called the Primitive Church Movement.

That Movement had several separate groups to whom God revealed the principle of the biblical church as built by Jesus Christ. They saw two vital points about the biblical church: The church is not a manmade institution; it is the result of the experience of salvation; and, the church is the body of Christ and people are added to the one church by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, as these different groups saw the truth of the one biblical church they never united on that principle and they either ceased to exist or they made themselves into quasi-denominations.

But the fruit of that Movement was the restoration of the teaching of the biblical church that attracted multitudes of people causing them to leave their denominations to be nothing other than the biblical church.

Even though the Movement got off to a tentative start, the principle of the truth was powerful and actually outlived the Movement. The principle of the truth about the church as built by Christ prompts the messages of the three angels in verses 8–11. The everlasting gospel; Babylon is fallen; and the wrath of God upon those that choose fallen Babylon and reject the everlasting gospel. Those messages are profound and they are still to be preached today.

 

The Effect of the Lamb and the 144,000

 

While the 144,000 stood with the Lamb at the opening of the sixth seal and as we see here in chapter 14, there was an effect that followed their original stand. As people heard the preaching of the three angels, they responded and according to verse 13, they died in the Lord—they died to sin and self and followed Christ in holiness. This brings about a movement that comes into being after the cessation of that original Primitive Church Movement.

John looks and sees “a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.” After John had heard the voice of God from heaven and recorded what He said, John now looks and sees a white cloud with someone sitting on the cloud that looks like the Son of man. Before seeing the three angels and hearing their messages, John had been looking at the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000. After being distracted by the voice from heaven, John now looks back at the Lamb on Mount Zion to find He has taken on a different appearance. The Lamb now looks like a white cloud with the Son of man sitting on it. He has a crown on His head and He has a sharp sickle in His hand.

The crown on His head and the sickle in His hand evoke the scene of Revelation 6:2, the rider of the white horse. He was given a crown and He carried a bow in His hand. We learned that this rider of the white horse is Jesus Christ as the head of His church in the beginning of the gospel dispensation. He now appears following the vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion as the head of His church in the last era of the history of the church.

 

The Prophetic Setting

 

The appearance of the cloud and the Son of man is a direct reference to the prophecy of Jesus on Mount Olivet just before He went to the cross as recorded in Mark 13:24–27.

 

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.

 

We here catch a vision of Christ returning to the spiritual heavens, the realm of the Christian Church, with a cloud of witnesses who understand and are dedicated to the message of the everlasting gospel. These are people that follow Christ, live holy lives, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do a work that has not been done since the days of the Early Church. The crown Christ wears is symbolic of His authority in the kingdom of God. The sickle He holds is symbolic of the everlasting gospel.

Christ’s prophecy of the sun darkening, stars falling and the description found here in Revelation 14 bear a remarkable similarity to the prophecy in Joel 3:13–17.

 

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again.

 

Joel calls this period in church history the day of the LORD; the angel coming out of the temple in Revelation 14:15 calls it the harvest of the earth and just above this in verse 7, the angel with the everlasting gospel calls it the hour of His judgment.

Joel tells us the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. In this prophetic time of the reaping of the earth, the Christian world is cast into the valley of decision having to choose between their churches and the body of Christ, the biblical church of God, with its everlasting gospel. The sun, moon and stars darkening show that God removes His light from the ministry and teachings of spiritual Babylon. Jesus Christ takes His rightful place as the Lamb on Mount Zion, now symbolized as the Son of Man sitting on a cloud, and He speaks to the religious world through His church.

Joel says Christ’s voice shakes the heavens; the heavens here representing saved people in Babylon. Their names are in the Lamb’s book of life but their names are also written on the rolls of earthly churches. These precious souls hear the voice of Christ and many are shaken out of the churches of men to flee to Mount Zion where they find hope in the everlasting gospel and learn that indeed they can live holy lives in the presence of God. Joel says His voice also shakes the earth; the earth here representing the religions of men. The people that trust in false gospels are shaken and are made to realize they are not part of the kingdom of God.

 

The Temple

 

As Christ appears in the spiritual heavens of the church, another angel comes out of the temple. The temple symbolizes the collective lives of the people that respond to the everlasting gospel, leave Babylon, and follow the Lamb wherever He goes. We know this because of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16–17,

 

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

 

Paul tells the church at Corinth that they, individually and collectively, are the temple of God because the Spirit of God lives in them. When believers are saved as individuals, they are immediately inducted into the collective existence of the church, the body of Christ as explained in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. In this passage it is seen that God’s people do not exist individually apart from the rest of the temple; they are part of the body and every action of theirs affects the entire temple. God’s people are to live holy lives as individuals so that the entire temple will be holy. Paul also wrote about this temple in 2 Corinthians 6:16,

 

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

 

Here again believers are called the temple of the living God. God sees the temple as a collective and unified body for He says “I will dwell in THEM, and walk in THEM.” The collective pronoun, them, identifies one entity, the one temple, consisting of an indefinite number persons.

Paul again mentions the collective nature of the temple and stresses its comparison to a building that is built according to the plan designed to be a holy habitation of God. Ephesians 2:19–22,

 

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

 

The writer of Hebrews ties all the symbolism of the temple, Mount Zion, and other facts, to the church Jesus builds by means of the new birth. Hebrews 12:22–23,

 

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect.

 

As people’s names are added to the book of life in heaven when they are born again, they are immediately added to the church of the firstborn. Their names do not have to be registered in the ledgers of manmade churches. The writer says that these are just men [Greek: dik-ah-yos, meaning innocent, holy] made perfect [Greek: tel-i-o-ō, meaning complete]. We might say they are saved, sanctified and living the holy lives God intends for them.

 

What Follows the Primitive Church Movement

 

In Revelation 14:15 we see another angel coming out of the temple. This angel notices that the Son of Man holds a sickle in His hand, so he cries out with a loud voice, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” This reaping of the earth takes place some time after the revelation of the Lamb on Mount Zion in verse 1. If the Lamb on Mount Zion is revealed around 1800, this part of the vision takes place some time later.

The messages of the three angels now have reached God’s people in Babylon. Now that they understand the everlasting gospel and want to be holy both in a personal sense and in a public sense as symbolized by the temple, they must hear a consolidate message on the church so they can physically come to it. The Primitive Church Movement presented the theory of the one biblical church as built by Jesus but it never did come together to be that one church. But now, closer to the end of the 19th century, God’s people are ready to come together; the time is right and an angel—or ministry—comes out into the open. This ministry does not try to start a new church and call it the church of God; it comes out on the biblical truth of the church as originated by the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. This ministry asks the Son of Man to reap the earth, meaning to harvest God’s people out of sectarianism and false churches and religions.

Here a ministry raises up to express the burden of this great body of Christ. This ministry knows the time is right and they are at a point in history ordained by the will of God.  Daniel S. Warner wrote in his diary for March 7, 1878:

 

On the 31st day of last January the Lord showed me that holiness could never prosper upon sectarian soil encumbered by human creeds and party names, and he gave me a new commission to join holiness and all truth together and build up the apostolic church of the living God. Praise His name! I will obey him.[1]

 

The Son of Man was moved by the hearts of a sincere ministry such as represented by Warner. He was not the only one with this burden as there were hundreds of others whose names are unknown to history that held the same burden. Nevertheless, the Son of man responded to this deeply felt cry of the saints of God and, as recorded in verse 16, “He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”

 

Church of God Reformation Movement

 

This leads us to the Church of God Reformation Movement that began around 1880. Daniel Warner was a missionary, evangelist, and editor of the holiness paper called The Gospel Trumpet. He lived from 1842 to 1895. While he played a major role in the movement that has been called the Church of God Reformation Movement, he was not the only one, or the first one, to receive such a call as he described in his journal.

These early reformers did not see themselves as another church movement; they saw the biblical truth of the church as did the people of the Primitive Church Movement and just wanted to be the biblical church free from all sects and divisions. The major difference between this movement and the Primitive Church Movement was that it was not the least bit sectarian and exclusive.

While it did set up a publishing house and a central camp meeting location in Grand Junction, MI, they never gave it the authority or prominence of a headquarters or ruling agency over the movement.

They never intended to establish a new church; their intention was to be just the church. In being the church they never saw themselves as excluding people that were genuinely saved; they accepted other saved people as spiritually part of the biblical church even if they did not attend any of the few congregations that came into being at that time.

God used the Church of God Reformation Movement to do a mighty work.  Not only did they preach salvation from all sin and holiness of life, they also preached the necessity of Christian unity in the one body of Christ, the church of the living God. Their preaching shook the walls of sectarianism and through the publication of The Gospel Trumpet, countless revivals and camp meetings, and intense personal work their message traveled around the entire world in about twenty years. The result of their work, this reaping of the earth by Christ, was that sinners were saved out of lives of deep sin to become holy saints of God. Multitudes of people who were truly saved or who had mere professions of faith were called out of spiritual Babylon to Mount Zion to follow the Lamb “wherever he goes.”

 

A Prophetic Time

 

Revelation chapter fourteen depicts a prophetic time in the plan of God. After centuries of spiritual darkness and a gradual awakening to the everlasting gospel, the full light of the everlasting gospel came back during the Sixth Seal and this vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000 following him wherever he goes.

Always keep in mind, regardless of what followed this moving of God in history, this was a special time of God’s work in history. Also, it was not limited to a movement in North America; it took place around the world and in some environments that were totally unaware of the movement in North America.

It was neither Daniel S. Warner nor the Church of God Reformation Movement that were the specific objects of the prophecy of the Book of Revelation, it was the fact that God did indeed bring back the truth and the understanding of the everlasting gospel along with the understanding of the place and nature of the biblical church that had been lost since the early days of Christianity.

As marvelous as was this reaping of the earth by the Son of Man, it does not end the story of Revelation chapter 14. There is more. Reforms in the history of the church came and went and so it was with this reaping of the earth. Eventually it became necessary for another angel to come out of the temple also having a sharp sickle; but instead of another reaping we see only the gathering of clusters of the vine of the earth.



[1] Byers, Andrew,  Birth of a Reformation,   Faith Publishing House: Guthrie, OK,  pg 173.